The latest research by Redfield & Wilton Strategies finds that 47% of Londoners support the introduction of Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs), up slightly from 44% in January but still lower than the 52% in October. Support thus remains high for LTNs—residential roads with limited motor traffic which have proliferated across England following the UK Government’s £250m Emergency Active Travel Fund in May 2020.
Low Traffic Neighbourhoods have been met with fierce opposition in some locations, prompting Wandsworth Council to end their LTN trials last September. That being said, only 16% of London respondents said they oppose LTNs, down from 21% in January. Meanwhile, 28% neither support nor oppose them, showing a degree of ambiguity and perhaps lack of awareness about the policy and its implications.
LTNs have the greatest support among 25 to 34-year-olds (54%), but a plurality or majority supports them across all age groups—including 51% of those aged 55 to 64.
There is an element of partisan difference on the issue: support for LTNs is slightly higher among 2019 Labour voters (53%) and those who intend to vote for Labour candidate Sadiq Khan in the 2021 London Mayoral Election (52%). By comparison, 46% of respondents who voted Conservative in 2019 and 46% of those who intend to vote for Conservative candidate Shaun Bailey for Mayor support LTNs. Despite the difference, these figures still represent a plurality of Conservative voters who support LTNs.
Interestingly, the level of support for the introduction of Low Traffic Neighbourhoods is similar among respondents who own a car and those who do not. In fact, support for LTNs is slightly higher among car owners (49%) than among individuals who do not own a car (46%). That being said, opposition is also higher among motorists, 21% of whom oppose LTNs, whereas 10% of non-motorists oppose them. A likely explanation for this variation for this is that motorists are likely to be more aware of the day-to-day impact of LTNs—for better or worse—thus leading them to have stronger sentiments for or against LTNs than non-motorists.
There is also greater support from Londoners who say they currently live in an LTN. When participants were asked if they live in a Low Traffic Neighbourhood, 49% of respondents said no and 24% said yes. A considerable 27% of Londoners said they don’t know if they live in an LTN or not, revealing a lack of extensive awareness about what they are and where they are located. This lack of awareness is especially true among those who do not own a car, 34% of whom said they don’t know whether they lived in an LTN, compared to 22% of motorists who also answered don’t know.
Support for the introduction of Low Traffic Neighbourhoods is higher among respondents who say they currently live in an LTN (57%), compared to 47% among those who do not live in one. However, opposition is at 20% for both those who say they do live in an LTN and those who say they do not, showing that a significant minority of those who live in LTNs do not view them favourably.
While there is a clear plurality of support for LTNs, doubts remain about their efficacy in lowering overall traffic. 42% of respondents said Low Traffic Neighbourhoods merely redirect cars to other areas, whereas 32% said LTNs do reduce the overall number of cars on the road.
The belief that LTNs redirect cars instead of reducing their overall number is shared by similar proportions of those who live in LTNs (47%) and those who do not (49%). But respondents living in Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (44%) are more likely to find LTNs reduce overall car traffic than those not living in one (30%).
Among car owners—the ones who are faced with the choice of limiting their driving or finding alternative routes—there is a greater sense that LTNs are ineffective at decreasing overall traffic, as 47% of motorists and 36% of non-motorists think LTNs just redirect cars elsewhere.
Views on Low Traffic Neighbourhoods’ efficacy in reducing traffic also differ with political positions: 50% of 2019 Conservative voters believe LTNs redirect cars elsewhere, compared to 37% of 2019 Labour voters.
Overall, the introduction of Low Traffic Neighbourhoods has the support of a wide range of Londoners, including a plurality among all age groups, voters of all parties, and motorists and non-motorists alike. This support has increased slightly since January, yet only a third of Londoners believe LTNs actually reduce the number of cars on the road.